For Wine, Cuisine and Shopping, Why Not Head to France?
France is the ideal destination for those who love history, wine, fine cuisine, shopping and high fashion. It is filled with medieval cities, alpine villages and Mediterranean beaches. Paris, the City of Lights, is not just for those looking for a romantic getaway. Art lovers will find renowned museums like the Louvre the Musee d'Orsay and the Centre Pompidou. Solo travelers will find it easy and safe to navigate. Lyon’s Roman theater and the vast Palace of Versailles attest to France's rich history. Luxury accommodations are available throughout the country. If you've dreamed of spending the night in a castle or a villa on the French Riviera, France is the destination for you.
For museum lovers, Paris is a dream come true. The challenge is choosing which museums to see and how much time to spend. If you only have time for one, the Louvre has the most extensive collection. However, there are museums that focus on children, culture, science, art, special forces, military, religion, and crafts. Whatever your interest, Paris has a museum for you.
Thirty-seven bridges cross the Seine river within the city boundaries. Some are just for pedestrians or trains, most carry motor-traffic and two bridges carry all three. Bridges have spanned the Seine since well before 100 BCE. The Pont des Arts - is probably considered the most romantic bridge in Paris. It links the right bank, near the Louvre, and the left bank a few feet away from the Pont Neuf. Lovers used to have a tradition: you had to lock a padlock with your name and your lover’s name on it on the bridge to make your love last forever. Sounds romantic right?
The best time to visit Paris is from mid-May to mid-September; in particular, from mid-May to late June, when the days are long, nature is in bloom and there is a low risk of excessive heat
5 days in Normandy
Day One - Bayeux
Your driver will pick you up at your Paris hotel for your adventure in Normandy. Bayeux will be your home base for your stay in Normandy. Its medieval center contains cobbled streets, half-timbered houses, and the towering, Norman-Gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame. The famed 223 foot Tapisserie de Bayeux, an 11th-century tapestry depicting the 1066 Norman invasion of England, is on display in an 18th-century seminary.
Day Two - Mont St Michel/St. Malo
The stupendous abbey of Mont St-Michel was first erected on an island at the very frontier of Normandy and Brittany more than a millennium ago. Until recently, however, that island was attached to the mainland by a long causeway, topped by a road. Now, thanks to a vast hydraulic and reconstruction project, it has become an island once more, connected to the shore by a futuristic curved bridge, surfaced with wooden decking. Crucially, that has enabled tidal waters to sweep all around, and thus flush away centuries of accumulated sand. The island can only be accessed on foot, bike, or riding in a shuttle bus or horse-drawn carriage.
St. Malo Walled with the same grey granite stone as Mont St-Michel, the elegant, ancient, and beautifully positioned city of St-Malo was originally a fortified island. Now inseparably attached to the mainland, it’s the most visited place in Brittany, thanks partly to its superb old citadel, its ferry service to England, and the lively streets that lie within the walls. This area known as intra-muros – is packed with restaurants, bars, and shops.
Day Three - Normandy Beaches
Visit one of WWII’s most important battle sites on this full-day small-group tour of the Normandy landing beaches from Bayeux. Walk the battlefields and beaches where thousands of Allied troops took part in history’s largest seaborne invasion and learn all about the fateful events of ‘D-Day’. Tour key sites like Utah beach, Omaha Beach, and Pointe Du Hoc, then pay your respects at the Normandy American Cemetery.
Day Four - Honfleur, Deauville, Rouen
As you head east along the corniche from Bayeux, green fields and fruit trees lull the land’s edge, and cliffs rise from sandy beaches all the way to the sister towns of Deauville and Trouville. Deauville is slightly larger than Trouville, and significantly more modern. Its streets are lined with designer boutiques and chic cafés. In summer, life revolves around the beach and the boardwalk, beyond which rows of primary-colored parasols obscure the view of the sea. It’s best known for its American Film Festival, held in the first week of September, and offering public admission to a wide selection of previews. Trouville is a resort, with a tangle of pedestrian streets set back from the beach that is alive with restaurants and hotels, and a busy boardwalk running along a sandy beach.
Honfleur is Normandy’s most beautiful seaside town and its best-preserved historic port. All that holds it back from perfection is that it’s now cut off from the Channel itself; with the accumulation of silt from the Seine, the sea has steadily withdrawn, leaving the eighteenth-century waterfront houses of boulevard Charles-V stranded and a little surreal. Its compact size, quaint waterside setting, and abundance of restaurants make it an ideal destination for a weekend break. Visitors inevitably gravitate towards the old center, around the Vieux Bassin, where slate-fronted houses, each one or two stories higher than seems possible, harmonize despite their tottering and ill-matched forms.
Rouen, the capital of Upper Normandy, is one of France’s most ancient cities. Standing on the site of Rotomagus, built by the Romans at the lowest point where they could bridge the Seine, it was laid out by Rollo, the first duke of Normandy, in 911. Captured by the English in 1419, it became the stage in 1431 for the trial and execution of Joan of Arc. Bombing during World War II destroyed all Rouen’s bridges, the area between the cathedral and the quais, and much of the left bank’s industrial quarter. When the city was rebuilt, its inner core of streets, north of the river, was turned into the closest approximation to a medieval city that modern imaginations could conceive.
Day Five - Return to Paris
Enjoy the beautiful landscape of Normandy as your driver returns you to Paris. Stop at Caen along the way to visit the Abbaye aux Hommes and William the Conqueror’s Castle, then take a tour of the magnificent Château de Falaise.